Are There Foods That Cause Acne?
It would seem that many people are confused about whether or not there are foods that cause acne. I recently looked at how many searches were done monthly on the search term “foods that cause acne”. The results surprised me in that there are an average of 8,800 searches performed for that phrase every month.
Do Certain Foods Cause Acne?
A number of well respected sources confirm that food does not cause acne. Acne has more to do with your genetics and your lifestyle. Food alone doesn’t cause acne.
However, some foods can make your acne worse. By the same token, some foods can help keep your skin healthy and lower the incidence of acne breakouts.
Do Some Foods Affect Acne?
Even in the scientific community, there is no clear agreement on whether any particular foods may affect acne. Much of this stems from the limited number of studies and the poor design of some of the studies that have been done.
A review of the literature published in 2009 found conflicting evidence in the published studies. In fact, their own statement at the beginning of the review bears this out. They stated, ” It turns out that there are no meta-analyses, randomized controlled clinical studies, or well-designed scientific trials that follow evidence-based guidelines for providing solid proof in dealing with this issue”.
So does that in effect mean that there is no answer to the question of whether foods can affect acne? It turns out that more recent studies have found a link between some foods and acne severity.
What Are The Links?
Several studies looked at the role of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). A laboratory study published in 2017 in the Annals of Dermatology looked at the role of IGF-1 and found that IGF-1 increases inflammatory markers and sebum production.
Other studies have also found a link between insulin and IGF-1 and acne severity.
What Does This Mean?
Well, as it turns out there are foods which can contribute to the severity of your acne. But they are probably not what you learned from your mother. In fact, some of the foods that have been implicated in causing acne or worsening the condition probably have nothing to do with it.
It is believed that since most milk comes from pregnant cows that the hormones present in the milk may be a contributing factor. Studies have linked the amount of milk you drink to your likelihood of having acne. The hormones that are present in the milk wind up in your body and have been linked to increased production of sebum from the skin. Sebum is the oily like substance secreted by the skin that can block pores of those with
Other dairy products may also cause the same effects. Foods such as cheese, yogurt, etc.
Foods With A High Glycemic Index
As noted above, insulin and IGF-1 can also contribute to inflammatory markers and increased sebum production. Food that are high in carbs such as potatoes, white rice, and white bread can cause a spike in blood sugar after eating. The carbs in these foods tend to be broken down into sugars that reach the bloodstream quickly after eating them. This triggers a release of insulin to deal with the higher blood sugar.
Other foods that contain a high glycemic index are processed foods which contain a lot of sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Avoiding those enticing sweets may actually help to control your acne.
Soda and sports drinks with a high carb and sugar content should also be avoided.
This is one urban legend that may have some validity. There have been some small studies that found those who eat more chocolate may have worsening acne. Conversely, the studies also found that cocoa was not the culprit. So in the case of chocolate, it may actually be the sugar and milk used to make it that may be the culprit. More studies are needed.
It is a common misconception that greasy foods will make your acne worse. Although greasy foods won’t directly cause acne, you should avoid eating to much of them for other health reasons. They can increase your cholesterol and triglyceride levels which can contribute to heart disease.
What Should You Eat?
Since some studies point to a high glycemic index diet as contributing to acne severity, it would make sense that eating a low glycemic index diet might provide the opposite effect, right? it turns out that does seem to be the case.
Foods High In Fiber
Foods that are high in fiber tend to slow the absorption of carbs and so naturally control blood sugar spikes. This may be one mechanism that helps to lessen the severity of acne. By controlling the amount of insulin and IGF-1 in the bloodstream, these foods may help prevent inflammation and sebum production.
Foods that are high in fiber include oatmeal, beans, apples, and many vegetables.
Psyllium husk is another source of dietary fiber and micro nutrients. You can take psyllium husk in convenient capsules. These are the supplements I recommend: Psyllium husk capsules 550mg
Fish & Oysters
Fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for good health. Another thing Omega-3 fatty acids do is block the production of IGF-1. This can lower sebum production in the skin. Omega-3 fatty acids are also an anti-inflammatory substance that can help to prevent inflammation in the body, including the skin.
Oysters contain zinc, which is an essential nutrient for skin health. It may also help to kill some types of bacteria that cause acne.
Nuts are high in fiber and also contain many nutrients that can help your skin stay healthy. Walnuts and almonds are two types of nuts that not only contain dietary fiber but are also nutritious.
Eggs are a great source of protein and other nutrients your body needs. Eggs contain all the amino acids your body needs to function and remain healthy too. Here is a great article on why eggs are not causing your acne.
Iodine is essential for the proper function of the thyroid. The thyroid controls hormones in your body so it is essential to keeping hormone levels balanced. If the thyroid doesn’t function correctly the imbalance in hormones can lead to adult acne.
Food sources of iodine include seaweed, iodized salt, and fish. You can also get your iodine in convenient capsule form from these Kelp Capsules. The kelp capsules may also be able to help control blood sugar levels, preventing the insulin and IGF-1 related issues from earlier in the article.
So as you can see there are no foods that cause acne. However, certain foods may be able to help influence whether your acne is under control or not. By cutting out high intake of the foods thought to contribute to acne you may help lessen your symptoms. By adding the foods thought to decrease high blood sugar, insulin and IGF-1 levels, you may also be able to influence your acne and overall skin health.